APPRENTICE roles are taking East Lancashire employees all the way to the top.

That’s according to new research which finds that nearly one fifth (18 per cent) of employers in the North West currently have former apprentices working in senior management and board level positions.

The findings, released to launch the third annual City & Guilds Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list, highlight the commitment of employers to promoting former apprentices through the ranks.

Indeed, 26 per cent of all employers in the region questioned said apprentices go on to various management positions in their company. The North West is the third highest region to have former apprentices working in senior management.

Nationally, an apprentice’s chance of becoming a director is greatest in the construction industry, with 47 per cent of businesses in this sector employing former apprentices in board level positions.

This is followed by manufacturing and engineering (43 per cent), agriculture (33 per cent) and energy and power (33 per cent).

Matthew Hancock, Skills and Enterprise Minister, said: “As we can see from this research, today’s apprentice could be tomorrow’s board director. Nearly every employer that takes on an apprentice, (96 per cent), reports benefits to their business and the calibre of the companies included in this year’s Top 100 list just goes to show the breadth of employers who are now embracing apprenticeships.

“Either going to university or choosing an apprenticeship needs to become the new norm for school and college leavers.

“These figures support this aim and show that apprentices are able to succeed in some of the biggest businesses in the UK.”

Chris Jones, chief executive and director general of City and Guilds, has also extolled the values of the apprenticeship scheme to business in the North West.

He said: “Apprenticeships provide employers with the workforce of the future.

“Through apprenticeships, employers gain the talented, skilled individuals they need boost productivity and growth.

“We partner with employers of varying sizes and industries on their apprenticeship programmes.

“All of them have seen the benefits apprenticeships can offer.

“Apprentices add value from day one not just through their skills, but through their enthusiasm and drive.”